Supplier Diversity – California Unified Certification Program

About this post. This is one of several posts (overview) sharing R|CAT’s afternoons of in real time blogging about certifying entities and their certification criteria.

This post presents initial activities of reviewing (beginning on 29 November) the California Unified Certification Program or UCP (California-based) certification process. The program is the federal Department of Transportation’s DBE Unified Certification Program.

What R|CAT has learned. The CPUC overview for the DBE program includes 3 links – CalTrans, CUCP, federal DOT. Based on this initial review, use the California UCP site map as a starting point. (R|CAT started with the CalTrans site.)

CUCP_site mapX

Applying is free. As a new business that has not been certified in the past, R|CAT must complete and mail two forms – (1) DBE application and (2)  the Personal Net Worth Statement, as well as providing copies of several required documents. R|CAT will submit its application either to BART, SAMTRANS, or VTA, among the six agency options.

The UCP is administering the federal DBE program. With no on-line application process, the UCP has a fillable .pdf form that would then be printed and mailed to the certifying agency. A business would apply to one of several member agencies throughout the state (.pdf) based on the which county the business is located. After submitting the application, a business would participate in an agency conducting an on-site visit.

RECOMMEND: Review the DBE File Processing Flow Chart (.pdf) for overall process.
OPINION: The State/CalTrans site is a bit of a maze of links and redundant information. Use the CUCP site.

California Unified Certification Program

This California Unified Certification Program or UCP (California-based) is the state’s program for qualifying businesses to be certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).

CUCP header_web

The California’s Department of Transportation (or CalTrans), Office of Business and Economic Opportunity (or OBEO), is one of the certifying agencies.CivilRightsBanner

Per CalTrans’s description, the DBE program’s main objectives are  as follows –

  • To ensure that small DBE firms can compete fairly for federally funded transportation-related projects.
  • To ensure that only eligible firms participate as a DBE firm.
  • To assist DBE firms in competing outside of the DBE Program.

In order for small disadvantaged firms, including those owned by minorities and women, to participate as a DBE in DOT-assisted contracts, they must apply for and receive certification as a DBE. For the state of California, DBE certification is performed by the certifying agencies of the California Unified Certification Program (CUCP).

The CUCP also can be administered by other select member agencies throughout the state.


The UCP is the California program for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s DBE program described as –

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), through its operating administrations which include Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, distributes in excess of $20 billion annually throughout the nation to help finance thousands of projects across the country. Although a major portion of the funds is allocated for highway construction, funds are also provided to local public transit authorities, including the District, for mass transit projects. The DOT DBE Program provides a vehicle for increasing the participation by disadvantaged businesses in these procurements.

Certification Qualifications

One of the main criteria is for the business seeking certification to have at leat 51% ownership (and control) by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, for which R|CAT qualifies under –

6. “Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual” means any individual who is a citizen of the United States (or lawfully admitted permanent resident) and who is:

CalTrans_DBE eligibility1. Any individual found to be socially and economically disadvantaged, on a case-by-case basis, by a certifying agency of the CUCP, pursuant to standards of the U.S. D.O.T. in 49 CFR Part 26, Subpart D-Certification Standards.

2. Any individual in the following groups, members of which are reputably presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged:

4. “Asian-Pacific Americans” which includes persons whose origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Samoa, Guam, the U. S. Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kirbati, Juvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, or Hong Kong;

Navigating the DBE-related Information

Although the State and CalTrans information is relatively straightforward, it is relatively dense and often redundant, depending which links one follows. Furthermore, in some cases, it is unclear which is the more recent and relevant information. Nevertheless, the main objective is to complete and submit the application form. R|CAT attempts to access the nuts and bolts of the application process.

Application Form

The forms may be accessed from the CalTrans OBEO site, which links to the forms over here (image below).

before starting DBE

For the get-to-the-point, download fillable forms at the following –

– with the following support information to reference while filling out the forms –

The California UCP site map, which R|CAT found after reviewing the CalTrans information, is a much more efficient way to understand the process.

Certifying Agencies

Based on the CUCP site, there are ten DBE certifying agencies throughout California. R|CAT may opt to apply to one of these six member agencies serving Alameda County (.pdf)

Application Content Requirements

UCP_Req DocumentsBased on a quick review of the application content requirements and required documents, here is information beyond what is required of The Supplier Clearinghouse and Department of General Services (DGS) processes –

    • NAICS – rather than the SIC (required by the Clearinghouse) or UNSPSC® (required by the DGS)
    • About financials – Served as a subcontractor with another firm constituting more than 25% of your firm’s receipts?
    • About ownership – Initial investment to acquire ownership interest in firm
    • What is the personal net worth of this disadvantaged owner applying for certification?
    • Has any trust been created for the benefit of this disadvantaged owner(s)?
    • Officer of the Company – Date appointed
    • Personal Net Worth Statement (.pdf)


Also, a straightforward “check the box” items regarding owner activities and duties are required.

Owner Duties Activities

For the California Unified Certification Program (UCP) process, what tips do you have for completing the process?


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